Sunday, 13 May 2018

Once upon a time we had a dream


Once upon a time there was a small Island Called Kos and Ron and Sally loved to go there for their holidays. Then one day Ron said “ let's live here forever and never go home” and that's how it all started and many of you have had the same dream.
And so the true tale of Greek drama began, humour, and tragedy and possibly Happy Ever After.

All the Greeks have opinions and everything is the Best and everyone is related or so it seems and everyone knows someone, who knows someone who can help. So not surprising then that Dimitris owner of the Fashion shop should double up as an Estate Agent and after so many near purchases in the past thwarted by so many reasons why not go in and ask him whilst trying on a dress. So the time was set for land hunting and a trip round the Village boundary was organised. We'd already come foul of regulations, what size of land would equate to the size of house, would there be a road with access and not cross some ones land. Would water and electric be within proximity and TV and Internet.

Ron's fantasy of living in the countryside away from it all was laid to rest with my fears of being stuck in the middle of nowhere in the middle of an emergency, would I be able to wheel those giant rubbish bins up to the main road. Would the cats be safe in the hunting season, yet not too close to the road. And so with a clear idea of our requirements we toured the village. Plot one had beautiful views across the Bay, but too expensive and no direct access. Plot two gorgeous with its own orchard established of Olive, Lemons and Medlars but rumours of Ancient ruins. So back to the apartment and Plot 3 right where we'd started from, the very view we'd been looking at year in year out. OMG this was it , why hadn't anybody told us before? The price was right and it seemingly met all the requirements and the deal was done in 2010.

I won't go into the whys and wherefores of delay even though I have every minute detail recorded in black and white and etched forever in my heart but suffice to say the journey started.

We need a builder, a good builder, and Architect, a good Architect, one who would stand up to the demands and scrutiny of Ron an Architect with many well known projects to his name. They really had to be 'The Best' and so the enquiries started and everyone knew someone, who was related to and who had done something for and so it went on.
We had three names and one stood out for his quality of work and we liked him. But we'd better shop around and so away from the village we asked our friend in Mastichari and she recommended the same one, Our friend in Zipari had the same one, however Zach is very good why not ask him and so we did. 'I've retired now' he said ' let me phone my nephew he is very good' and so he did and so of course it was the same man, who said to his Uncle he'd already met with us and all roads led back to Kefalos and all roads back to Manolis and so it was settled.

So much red tape and paperwork and legalities and visits to the Notary and the Lawyer and Architect wasn't it a relief to find you just got your plot marked out on a piece of paper, everyone knew whose bit was which and you're off and running. Not so 2013 brought in a new law and land boundaries had to be plotted by GPS even Big Brother had it's eyes on tiny Kefalos and Google Earth thank you very much and so a year later with boundaries settled and parcels of land swapped things could move forward except for the garage. You can't build two houses together on a plot without being joined in some way. And so the car port was the answer but yet again required its own planning permission and visits to the lawyer and the notary etc etc.

And so the build began and suffice to say even the earthquake last year could not shatter the stability of our footings but what did shatter my world was the death of Ron and my Mum five weeks later and so I couldn't face Kos last year, all those hopes and dreams lost in a double Tragedy.


But Kefalos calls to you, spreads it' magic and by February I was back for Apokries and to find out where my heart lay. Easter and Kristos Anesti sealed the deal and Manolis has been building like a Trojan and anyone watching from the hill above will see progress. I now nearly have a complete concrete shell, I have stairs to the first floor, when it's built of course and I have peace of mind.


So thank you Kefalos, thank you George, Frosini and Family for always being there for me and making me feel part of the family.


Thank you Christine and Ron for putting up with me, thank you Missy for sharing my bed with me even if I don't like sharing your Dog Chews and chicken leg Dog breath, thank you Manolis for introducing me to Dimitris, and thank you Manolis for doing the excellent construction work Ron knew you could do........Even if he did demand to see photos and videos along the way just to make sure. 

Thank you Sotiris for seeing it through and thank you BOO for everything.


More stage to come towards the Happy Ending


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Happy Easter Christos Anesti

Christos Anesti ("Χριστός ἀνέστη!" - "Christ is Risen!" in Greek)

As the villagers made their way to the church in response to the bells on Saturday night, the firecrackers went off around them. Undeterred they made it to the church door, but so full of people many stood outside as the liturgy was sung. All ages gathered at the church and some chose to stand alone and watch. Too many bangs to hear the service the Priest completed just before midnight as the fireworks went off illuminating the church from above and the Light of the world was spread out from the church.




 
 
As the Priest came out and said“Christos Anesti” (Christ is Risen) the Villagers replied: “Alithos Anesti” (Truly He is Risen) amid ringing bells and snapping fire-crackers.  Families and friends kissed one another and exchanged the Easter greeting .It was very moving.


 

People bearing candles lit from within  shared amongst each other , returned home lighting the way and spreading the news for another year. The ritual of smoking the cross over the front door must have happened all over the village. Small children carried Pom Pom lights, some had lanterns and some long tapered candles. Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Widows all shared in the experience and knew the ritual.




 

As I strolled up towards the centre, some men remained in the Kafenions drinking beer and coffee. I couldn’t help think that perhaps this ritual was maybe ‘same old, same old’ , but no. As we walked back past they were watching the event on the Big Screen from Athens away from the dynamite throwers. My ears were ringing from the bells and the explosions.



 

Last minute hair does were being created in the salons presumably for today’s celebrations and big family gatherings. The salon owner closest to the church was taping up his window to save it from the blasts and remonstrating with the offender. So woe betide that Easter Reveller if the glass isn’t intact this morning.

The liturgy continued for a long time after and the occasional crackle could be heard in the voices of the Priest.
"χρόνια πολλά

ps 4 windows broken to date
pps saved from the Magiritsa soup. Sorry as much as I like Greek cuisine didn't fancy lambs entrails.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Sounds of silence


Two weeks of walking around Kos as part of my fitness regime…..Whose Kidding? As quite rightly Missy puts up with us stopping for lunch, ice cream, picnics etc. You can’t help but notice the difference between the UK where I live and Kos. The quality of the light, sound and smells. It’s as if  Greece is crystal clear, each individual sound audible and recognisable, each aroma distinct and the visibility crisp .

I went for Easter but was not prepared for the Firecrackers and sticks of dynamite dropped here and there,nearly bursting my ear drums, quite thought I’d be left with tinnitus as they let them off in the street right in front of me cracking windows despite taping them. The bells could be heard resounding around the village as they called for prayer, marriage, baptisms and burials and the Liturgy so clear that any crack in a voice from chanting for so long couldn't be missed as it echoed round the village.

Not sure the cockerels know when first thing in the morning is as they crow and clack and the dogs bark, the cats screech and the donkeys bray like some kind of choir. The scooters squeal and the woman shout to each other never sure whether they are arguing or just passing the time of day. But the sound is clear and unmistakable.

The further out of the Village you go the street noise gets left behind and the sound of the countryside takes over. Bees hum as they take advantage of the wild flowers. Drive up the hairy road to Agios Ioannis (Not yet ready for the season)the sound of silence is broken only by the sound of waves on the shore line so far below.

 

Go up by the windfarm and the gentle whoosh of the arms as they rotate contrast with the bleat of the goats as they follow their mothers. Their bells chink as they clamber across the rocks foraging for food or follow the shepherds.


The sheep bah as they too follow the shepherds or shelter from the sun under the trees.


But in the castle of Antimachia silence. Peaceful , full of life, insects, lizards, butterflies and birds yet silent. Perhaps the Ancients like it that way, hints of ghosts watching and waiting, curious about their visitors must have thought us picnicking in the ruins a bit strange but it was worth it and we were silent.

 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

We're not with the 'In Crowd'



A warm February morning with white fluffy clouds floating across the Reedbeds ,the water of the  Salt lake gently laps the shingle sand banks with no more than a murmur. No sound of summer cicadas or quadbikes whizzing along the wide flat pathway. The clouds role by as if someone has puffed them out of Bubble pipe and let them go.


The few Flamingos that remain are far out in the centre of the lake still only knee high as they sift for food. Occasionally you hear them chattering to each other. A large caterpillar crawls in front of us as butterflies flutter across the wild yellow flowers. The flower heads all face the sun and follow its path as the day progresses. A few solitary bees take nectar from small delicate flowers that nestle on the bank. Behind us smaller  ponds are home   to ducks and ahead brightly coloured geese fly off as they see us coming.







Two awkward young Flamingos strut around on the path, occasionally wading out into the water long enough for us to pass and then walking back out behind us. These juveniles don’t appear to have their pink plumage, just pale grey underwings rather like baby seagulls. The grey rooks seem interested in them and close by an Eagle sits on the fence a large bird of prey that I wish I’d photographed. They don’t seem to be part of the ‘In Crowd’, but I’m not an expert in bird behaviour.


It’s such a tranquil place, not a soul in sight but clear in the distance the Greek Flag merges into the blues and soft ochres of the landscape, gently asserting this is our space, our Greek heritage.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Apokries


 


As dusk descends in sleepy Kefalos and the air is tainted by wood smoke and charcoal as if by magic they appear, drawn towards the centre of the old school. One by one ghouls creep out of the doorways, slip down alleyways, slowly and silently make their way back to the hub, the centre of all beginnings. Ghosts, spider men, geishas, frogs, Spanish dancers, boys dressed as girls, girls as boys as all manner of wierdness gathers as the light dims.

 

They are waiting for something just like the pied piper of Hamlin. Then they appear the Greek players with their Bazooki and fiddle and as they start to play their tune the children gather and more and more arrive. Arranged like a wedding party the Bride and Groom lead the children as they follow the musicians through the tiny streets and more people join the throng as they weave their way in and out of the back streets of Kefalos.

 


They are drawn by the sound and the smell of wood smoke towards the centre where the folks await. They follow a weird donkey like creature as it leads them towards the BBQ. Mini souvlaki are being prepared for the small children by men of the village.

 


They arrive to witness the marriage of the strange bride and groom by the child priest and dance the night away to celebrate the festival of Apokries......

 


The youngsters of the night dance to the mournful sound of the players and perform many traditional dances throughout the evening. A contrast of dark and light, shadows and bright as the young people make the most of fun, laughter and feast of meat before 40 days of lent.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Can you see me?



You can’t help but feel that the spirits over time on the Ancient ruins of Agios Stefanos have seen many things as the Basilica projects into the sea at the far end of Kamari Bay. Club Med is about to experience a new lease of life and even now at the end of the season tourists still swim out to the Island across the shallow stretch of water with a lone Pedallo floating on the sea. Wedding parties set sail to the small church, water sports delight tourists off the beach and local dog walkers seem to see this as a turning point on their jaunt along the sand.


It’s Ochi day and a group of people have decided to picnic under the tree and enjoy the view. As you walk round the edge of the ruin and glance down into the sea the Black Sea Urchins cling to the rocks and snails hug the dried barren vegetation. The mosaics reveal themselves in the sand and the pillars and stones gradually break down over time from the heat and rain.






As the tourists leave the site, the geckos scamper across the rocks to bask undisturbed in the sunshine. You’d be forgiven for not seeing them as their camouflage matches their surroundings so well and when they know you’ve spotted them they freeze as if their lack of movement makes them invisible. Move closer and they move too, get too close and they vanish as if like magic, into the crevices of the rocks and pillars. You can only imagine the picnic they’ll have when everyone has gone home for the season.
Can you see me?

and me?



Flamingos have the last laugh


In the warmth of the late October sun with the clear blue skies you can be forgiven for thinking it’s still Summer. But the absence of busy roads, sunbeds on the beach, hustle and bustle in the streets and a clear view across Eleftherias Square indicate the tourists have gone home and everyday life gets back to normal. The winding down after the Summer season has begun and Tavernas and shops are shutting up for the Winter.

The Greek equivalent of Costa and Nero have shot up yet the choice of coffee’s include Fredo Espresso and Frappe essential to the Greek way of life. Yet only Greek’s can do a coffee delivery service on their mopeds and young and old sit sipping coffee for hours under the bougainvillaea whilst smoking a cigarette and watching the world go by.


So on my way out of Kos town a detour to the Tigaki Salt Lake seems the perfect opportunity to see the Greater Flamingos. With no one around you soon realise another indication that October has arrived is the absence of sound, no cicadas the sound of silence is enormous. As we pull up to the lake side a flock of Jackdaws take to the skies cackling to each other as they fly off across the fields and rooks squabble in the trees.

Standing on the side of this shallow lake we are able to observe the Flamingos around the corner and decide to follow the path round to get a closer look. So just like David Attenborough we creep up silently  through the reed bed. We can hear them chatting to each other with that same laugh Ducks have when they are quacking about who knows what. They are so close and just as we peer round the grasses they spot us and take flight back to where we stood earlier. The salmon pink under wings are beautiful but they are too quick for us to capture on film.



We will try again next time and take our tripod to give us a better chance of capturing the spectacle. You can still hear them, laughing at our failed attempts, but they soon ignore us as they get back to feeding.